American Airlines adds more than 100 jets to those retiring due to the coronavirus

Mar 31, 2020

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American Airlines will retire more than 100 aircraft early as it shrinks its fleet in response to lower demand from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier has added 76 older Boeing 737-800s, plus all nine of its Airbus A330-300s and 20 Embraer E190s, to the list of planes it will retire early amid the COVID-19 crisis, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The move would be in addition to the 51 Boeing 757s and Boeing 767s that American previously indicated it would retire early due to the virus.

American spokesperson Andrea Koos did not confirm the fleet changes but said the airline continued to modify its “flying schedule and fleet requirements based on demand.”

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A decision by American to retire what would amount to more than 150 jets early makes sense. The carrier is making deep capacity cuts with plans to reduce international flying by up to 90% and U.S. flying by up to 80% in May. These cuts will require far fewer aircraft than the 942 mainline jets American flew on Dec. 31, 2019.

By the latest estimates, demand for air travel is not expected to hit bottom until June at the earliest and will take years to recover to 2019 levels. Most analysts expect U.S. demand to be down by double-digits at year-end, even with the trillions of dollars in stimulus from the government.

Delta Air Lines is removing all of its 77 McDonnell Douglas MD-88s and MD-90s, as well as some of its 767s, earlier than planned due to COVID-19. Other carriers are expected to make similar fleet reductions with older jets likely in the crosshairs.

American already planned to retire its A330-300s in the next year or two. The E190s were due to leave by year-end.

The older 737 retirements are a new addition to American’s fleet plan. The planes were previously slated to be retrofit with updated cabins that featured 12 more seats for 172 total, the same number as on its 737 MAX 8 jets.

Related: American Airlines accelerates Boeing 757, 767 retirements due to coronavirus

Featured image by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

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